Modal Intuition

Edited by Anand Vaidya (San Jose State University, University of California at Santa Barbara)
About this topic
Summary One approach to modal epistemology is to argue that our intuitions about modality are the grounds for our beliefs about what is possible and necessary. It is because one has an intuition that P is possible, that one is entitled to believe that P is possible. Of course, intuitions are fallible. The central question is why should we take them to be reliable.
Key works The central proponent of the intuition approach is Bealer 2002. In a series of papers he has argued that we have reliable intuitions about modality and that these intuitions are the grounds for knowledge of metaphysical modality. There are those that are skeptical about intuitions as sources of evidence, and then there are those that are skeptical about the epistemology of modality. Skepticism about modal epistemology can be found in Van Inwagen 1998. Skepticism about intuitions can be found in Williamson 2007.
Introductions A key introduction is Vaidya 2007
Related categories

22 found
  1. Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance.George Bealer - 2002 - In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 71-125.
    The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. A less (...)
  2. Conceivability and Possibility: Some Dilemmas for Humeans.Francesco Berto & Tom Schoonen - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    The Humean view that conceivability entails possibility can be criticized via input from cognitive psychology. A mainstream view here has it that there are two candidate codings for mental representations (one of them being, according to some, reducible to the other): the linguistic and the pictorial, the difference between the two consisting in the degree of arbitrariness of the representation relation. If the conceivability of P at issue for Humeans involves the having of a linguistic mental representation, then it is (...)
  3. The Knowability Paradox: Does Logic Come Before Metaphysics?Giulia Casasole & Martina Orlandi - 2011 - Logic and Philosophy:1-12.
  4. Gedankenexperimente in der Philosophie.Daniel Cohnitz & Sören Häggqvist - 2007 - In M. Staschok (ed.), Abstrakt - Exakt - Obskur: Philosophische Gedankenexperimente & Kunst. Logos.
    Sie halten gerade ein Buch in Ihren H¨anden. Vielleicht liegt es auch auf dem Tisch vor Ihnen, w¨ahrend Sie diese Worte lesen. Aber woher wissen Sie, dass Sie ein Buch vor sich haben? Nun, Sie sehen es nat¨urlich mit eigenen Augen. Vermutlich f¨uhlen Sie auch das Gewicht des Buches, das gegen Ihre Haut dr¨uckt, w¨ahrend sie es in H¨anden halten, und h¨oren das Rascheln der Seiten, wenn Sie umbl¨attern. Dar¨uber hinaus sind Sie wach und (so vermuten wir mal) einigermaßen n¨uchtern, (...)
  5. Empirical Metaphysics: The Role of Intuitions About Possible Cases in Philosophy.J. L. Dowell - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 140 (1):19-46.
    Frank Jackson has argued that only if we have a priori knowledge of the extension-fixers for many of our terms can we vindicate the methodological practice of relying on intuitions to decide between philosophical theories. While there has been much discussion of Jackson’s claim that we have such knowledge, there has been comparatively little discussion of this most powerful argument for that claim. Here I defend an alternative explanation of our intuitions about possible cases, one that does not rely on (...)
  6. Theory Selection in Modal Epistemology.Robert William Fischer - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (3):289-304.
    Accounts of modal knowledge are many and varied. How should we choose between them? I propose that we employ inference to the best explanation, and I suggest that there are three desiderata that we should use to rank hypotheses: conservatism, simplicity, and the ability to handle disagreement. After examining these desiderata, I contend that they can’t be used to justify belief in the modal epistemology that fares best, but that they can justify our accepting it in an epistemically significant sense. (...)
  7. The Role of Intuition in Metaphysics.M. J. García-Encinas - 2015 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 34 (3):79-99.
    In this paper I consider the possibility of a kind of a priori cognition that serves the purposes of metaphysics, given that metaphysics involves the search for modal knowledge. Necessary or, better, modal knowledge is a priori; so metaphysical knowledge is likewise a priori. Here I argue that intuition is the route to modal knowledge in metaphysics, and I insist that conceivability or knowledge of conceptual truths does not lead towards the modal realm of metaphysics.
  8. Conceivability and Defeasible Modal Justification.Heimir Geirsson - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 122 (3):279-304.
    This paper advances the thesis that we can justifiably believe philosophically interesting possibility statements. The first part of the paper critically discusses van Inwagens skeptical arguments while at the same time laying some of the foundation for a positive view. The second part of the paper advances a view of conceivability in terms of imaginability, where imaginging can be propositional, pictorial, or a combination of the two, and argues that conceivability can, and often does, provide us with justified beliefs of (...)
  9. Imagining Possibilities.Dominic Gregory - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (2):327–348.
    Kripkean examples of necessary a posteriori truths clearly provide a challenge to attempts to connect facts about possibility to facts about what people can conceive. The paper argues for a general principle connecting imaginability under certain special circumstances to possibility; it also discusses some of the issues raised by the resulting position.
  10. Law Necessitarianism and the Importance of Being Intuitive.Daniel Z. Korman - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):649–657.
    The counterintuitive implications of law necessitarianism pose a far more serious threat than its proponents recognize. Law necessitarians are committed to scientific essentialism, the thesis that there are metaphysically necessary truths which can be known only a posteriori. The most frequently cited arguments for this position rely on modal intuitions. Rejection of intuition thus threatens to undermine it. I consider ways in which law necessitarians might try to defend scientific essentialism without invoking intuition. I then consider ways in which law (...)
  11. Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology. [REVIEW]Peter Kung - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):806-809.
  12. The Hardness of the Iconic Must: Can Peirce's Existential Graphs Assist Modal Epistemology?C. Legg - 2011 - Philosophia Mathematica 20 (1):1-24.
    Charles Peirce's diagrammatic logic — the Existential Graphs — is presented as a tool for illuminating how we know necessity, in answer to Benacerraf's famous challenge that most ‘semantics for mathematics’ do not ‘fit an acceptable epistemology’. It is suggested that necessary reasoning is in essence a recognition that a certain structure has the particular structure that it has. This means that, contra Hume and his contemporary heirs, necessity is observable. One just needs to pay attention, not merely to individual (...)
  13. Intuitions and Relativity.Kirk Ludwig - 2010 - Philosophical Psychology 23 (4):427-445.
    I address a criticism of the use of thought experiments in conceptual analysis advanced on the basis of the survey method of so-called experimental philosophy. The criticism holds that surveys show that intuitions are relative to cultures in a way that undermines the claim that intuition-based investigation yields any objective answer to philosophical questions. The crucial question is what intuitions are as philosophers have been interested in them. To answer this question we look at the role of intuitions in philosophical (...)
  14. Explaining Modal Intuition.Nenad Miščević - 2003 - Acta Analytica 18 (1-2):5-41.
    The paper defends causal explanationism concerning our modal intuitions and judgments, and, in particular, the following claims. If a causally explainable mirroring or “pre-established harmony” between our mind and modal reality obtains, we are justified in believing it does. We do not hold our modal beliefs compulsively and blindly but with full subjective and objective justification. Therefore, causal explanation of our modal beliefs does not undermine rational trust in them. Explanation and trust support each other. In contrast, anti-explanationists, claim that (...)
  15. Naturalism and Modal Reasoning.Nenad Mišćević - 1994 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 49:149-173.
    A naturalistic theory of modal intuitions and modal reasoning inspired by Hintikka's theorizing should start from the principle that advanced modal reasoning has its roots in commonsense intuitions. It is proposed that the naturalist can rely on the assumption of uniformity: the same set of basic principles is used in reasoning about actual and counterfactual dependencies - modal cognition is conservative. In the most primitive cases the difference between a model of an actual situation and of a merely possible one (...)
  16. Essentialism: Metaphysical or Psychological?Moti Mizrahi - 2014 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 14 (40):65-72.
    In this paper, I argue that Psychological Essentialism (PE), the view that essences are a heuristic or mental shortcut, is a better explanation for modal intuitions than Metaphysical Essentialism (ME), the view that objects have essences, or more precisely, that (at least some) objects have (at least some) essential properties. If this is correct, then the mere fact that we have modal intuitions is not a strong reason to believe that objects have essential properties.
  17. Herman Cappelen - Philosophy Without Intuitions. [REVIEW]Sebastian J. Mueller - 2013 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Literatur 1 (1):35-43.
    This is a critical discussion of Herman Cappelen's "Philosophy Without Intuitions".
  18. Metaphysical Necessity: Understanding, Truth and Epistemology.C. Peacocke - 1997 - Mind 106 (423):521-574.
    This paper presents an account of the understanding of statements involving metaphysical modality, together with dovetailing theories of their truth conditions and epistemology. The account makes modal truth an objective matter, whilst avoiding both Lewisian modal realism and mind-dependent or expressivist treatments of the truth conditions of modal sentences. The theory proceeds by formulating constraints a world-description must meet if it is to represent a genuine possibility. Modal truth is fixed by the totality of the constraints. To understand modal discourse (...)
  19. “Filling In”, Thought Experiments and Intuitions.Michael J. Shaffer - forthcoming - Episteme:1-8.
    Recently Timothy Williamson (2007) has argued that characterizations of the standard (i.e. intuition-based) philosophical practice of philosophical analysis are misguided because of the erroneous manner in which this practice has been understood. In doing so he implies that experimental critiques of the reliability of intuition are based on this misunderstanding of philosophical methodology and so have little or no bearing on actual philosophical practice or results. His main point is that the orthodox understanding of philosophical methodology is incorrect in that (...)
  20. On The Impossibility of Nonactual Epistemic Possibilities.Ori Simchen - 2004 - Journal of Philosophy 101 (10):527 - 554.
    A problem inherited from Kripke is the reconciliation of commitments to various necessities with conflicting intuitions of contingency, intuitions that things "might have turned out otherwise." Kripke's reconciliation strategy is to say that while it is necessary that X is Y, and so impossible for X not to be Y, it is nevertheless epistemically possible for X not to be Y. But what are nonactual epistemic possibilities? Several answers are considered and it is concluded that scenarios adduced to explain away (...)
  21. What is Hume's Dictum, and Why Believe It?Jessica M. Wilson - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595 - 637.
    Hume's Dictum (HD) says, roughly and typically, that there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed, entities. HD plays an influential role in metaphysical debate, both in constructing theories and in assessing them. One should ask of such an influential thesis: why believe it? Proponents do not accept Hume's arguments for his dictum, nor do they provide their own; however, some have suggested either that HD is analytic or that it is synthetic a priori (that is: motivated by (...)
  22. Review Of: Timothy Williamson, The Philosophy of Philosophy.D. Gene Witmer - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (1-2):155-160.